Al-Qaida Sarin Plot on Parliament Foiled
NewsMax | August 21, 2005
LONDON -- Scotland Yard believes it thwarted an al-Qaida sarin gas attack on the British Parliament, according to an internal police document.
The plot to unleash the deadly nerve gas on the House of Commons was hatched last year and uncovered through decoded e-mails on computers seized from terror suspects in Britain and Pakistan, the Sunday Times reported, citing the police memo it obtained. Police and the secret service identified an al-Qaida cell that had carried out extensive research and videotaped reconnaissance missions in preparation for the attack, the Times said.
The paper reported the encrypted e-mails were believed to have been decoded with the help of an al-Qaida "supergrass" -- a police informant. By cracking the terrorists' code, the informant was also able to tip off the secret service and intelligence officials to several more plots.
A senior officer confirmed that the foiled plot mentioned in the police document involved a gas or chemical "dirty bomb" attack against the British Parliament.
"The House of Commons was one of their targets, as well as the Tube," the Times quoted the officer as saying. "They were planning to use chemicals, a dirty bomb and sarin gas. They looked at all sorts of ways of delivering it."
The police memo, drawn up after the deadly July 7 bombings on London's transit system, reveals high-level fears suicide bombers could use a taxi or a visit to an exhibition to mark the 400th anniversary of the gunpowder plot on Parliament.
On Nov. 5, 1605, Guy Fawkes was arrested for conspiring to blow up the House of Commons.
While London's Metropolitan refused to comment on the Times report, they did say they had reviewed the use of deadly force against suspected terrorists following the killing of an innocent Brazilian, but made only minor changes.
The review of the deadly force policy followed the July 22 killing of Jean Charles de Menezes, 27, who was wrongly suspected of being a suicide bomber connected to transit bombings July 7 and 21.
"The police have reviewed the strategy and we have made one or two small changes, but the operation remains essentially the same," a police spokeswoman said.
She declined to discuss details of the changes in Operation Kratos, the force's name for what British media call a "shoot to kill" policy.
Police denied a report they had offered $1.2 million in compensation to the Menezes family. They said about $33,000 was offered to the family.
A report in yesterday's Daily Mail said a senior officer had made an initial offer of compensation during a visit to Brazil two weeks ago.
"We will not be bought off. We will not be silenced," said the man's parents, Matozinho and Maria de Menezes.
The Sunday Telegraph reported that intelligence officials had reduced the threat level from the highest rating of "critical" down to "severe general" because there was no specific intelligence of an imminent repeat of attacks.
The report, however, was published before officials could digest the al-Qaida gas attack story.